I wrote this as an Op-Ed for the Austin American Statesman, even making a few follow up calls to an editor. I checked the paper today and couldn’t find the article. So, not wanting to waste the opportunity to talk about an important safety event, here’s the article.

Around the country this month, dozens of groups are making Nov. 18 a special day for safety. National Injury Prevention Day is shining a green light to draw attention to the crisis of injuries of kids 18 and younger. These are actual lights in some places, like Houston’s city hall, lit green for the day. There are also proclamations, the promises governments make to draw attention to people who help in our lives.

More than 10 years ago, a tragedy in my life unfolded that has led to Lock Arms for Life. We advocate for safe gun storage, sparked by the death of my son when a handgun went off and killed him. It was a totally preventable accident, the kind of event that safety awareness could stop.

Lock Arms for Life isn’t the only organization in Austin dedicated to safety. Dell Children’s Medical Center is also participating in National Injury Prevention Day. The awareness day is also a priority for Texas Gun Sense, a non-profit dedicated to commonsense evidence-based policies to reduce injuries and deaths.

I know first-hand what it’s like to lose a child to a gun owner’s negligence. The pain is indescribable. What hurts more is knowing how preventable my college son’s death was. Safe storage could have saved his life. My family owns guns, and that gun owner never wanted to cause harm to my son.

More than 1.5 million guns have been sold in Texas this year. The pandemic has helped create new gun owners who don’t have the safety education they need to own firearms. National Injury Prevention Day helps everyone focus on the many things that injure children. The most lethal injuries are from firearms. Almost 600 children have been injured or killed this year by guns.

Hospitals and fire departments, police organizations and universities, cities, and business groups — they’re all supporting this injury prevention awareness event. A single day won’t change much by itself. The awareness we can all spread, though, can have a lasting effect on the safety of our children and our communities.

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